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Sunil Chhetri on Retirement: Enjoying My Football, Not Going Away Anytime Soon

File photo of Sunil Chhetri (Photo Credit: AIFF)

File photo of Sunil Chhetri (Photo Credit: AIFF)

Sunil Chhetri said that he has not plans to retire from football anytime soon and added that he doesn't want to put numbers on how long he will keep playing.

Sunil Chhetri has been the leading man of the revolution in Indian football. But the talismanic star is not the youngest around anymore. Questions on retirement have come about time and again, with Chhetri letting his feet do most of the talking.

In a Facebook Live with All India Football Federation on Thursday, Chhetri opened up on the issue.

"I am enjoying my football and am not going away anytime soon," said Sunil Chhetri, indicating that he will keep on playing for another three to four years.

The 35-year-old Sunil Chhetri, who holds the national record of most international matches and most number of goals, made it clear that retirement plans are currently not on his mind.

"I don't want to put numbers (on how long I will keep playing). But I am enjoying my football and I am not going away anytime soon," Chhetri said in a live chat on the Facebook page of Indian football team.

"I told my wife that I am feeling so fit. I am going to challenge Udanta and Ashique Kuruniyan (both India and Bengaluru FC team-mates) for a sprint. Unless a Sahal (Abdul Samad) scores a lot of goals and push me away (from the national team), I am going to be there, playing for the team."

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Chhetri completes 15 years of international career on Friday since making his debut in Quetta against Pakistan in a friendly series in 2005. He had scored on his debut in the 1-1 drawn match.

Since then, he has played 115 matches and scored 72 goals. He is the second highest international scorer among active footballers, behind Portugal superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and above Argentine maestro Lionel Messi.

"I am fortunate to have played 15 years for my country. It is a dream, 3-4 years more probably and it will be (nearly) 20 years. Who would have thought to play 20 years and so I am living on my dream."

Chhetri, however, is almost unlikely to play in a World Cup match as India is out of reckoning for a berth in the 2022 showpiece in Doha while the 2026 edition is too far.

Teased by national team-mate Sandesh Jhingan to be prepared for the 2026 World Cup, Chhetri said, "I don't know about 2026 World Cup. But I would love to see Anirudh Thapa sending a cross to Jhingan and I would love to watch it from the stands.

"Till the time I am with the national team, I will give my best."

(With inputs from PTI)